Constrained Listening, Audience Alignment, and Expert Communication

Constrained Listening, Audience Alignment, and Expert Communication

By Kevin Smith, Mirko S. Heinle, Paul E. Fischer
November 9,2017Working Paper No. 3686

We consider a cheap talk setting with two senders and a continuum of receivers with heterogenous preferences. Receivers listen to just one sender, but can choose which sender to listen to. We determine that: (i) full communication is possible for a large set of sender preferences; (ii) both senders attract listeners only if they are oppositional and not too polarized; and (iii) senders with preferences that are closer to the average receiver preference are listened to by a greater proportion of receivers. In extensions, we endogenize the senders’ preferences and investigate the effects of an entertainment benefit derived by receivers.